When the two Elders emerged from the house, they called for the disciples to gather on the square where they would normally get their instructions in the morning.
The disciples couldn’t help but gather in small groups, talking in hushed voices. More than a few of them glanced in Mei Chao Bing’s direction, seeming unsure of what they should believe. Had he been the one to mess with the array? Was he innocent? They couldn’t make up their minds about this.
Everything seemed to point in his direction but they just didn’t know. When the Elders finally appeared in front of them, they almost wanted to heave a sigh of relief. Whatever the answer to the question was, it was better to know than to be kept in this state of anticipation and worry where they felt like they could do nothing.
Elder Xing and Elder Baili stepped in front of the disciples and once again exchanged a glance. The one to step forward was Elder Xing since he had been the one to make the announcements for the past days as well. They hoped that by doing it this way, it would give the disciples a sense of normalcy. Or at least as much as that was possible right now.
“Elder Baili and I have investigated the matter that happened yesterday. As it turns out, this tragic event was not caused by one of our disciples.”
Some glances were once again exchanged and quite a few people looked at Mei Chao Bing. So it turned out that he hadn’t done anything …
On the other hand, Yang Wu Huang slightly furrowed his brows. How could this be the result of the investigation? It was good that they hadn’t found out that it had been him but why hadn’t they convicted Mei Chao Bing? They couldn’t really believe that this had nothing to do with any of the disciples, could they?
Elder Xing didn’t even glance in his direction and just continued to explain. “As it turns out, this was caused by the actions of the demonic practitioners just as we had originally thought.
“Elder Baili and I believe that the way they went about this might have been intentional. They likely wanted us to suspect each other. That way, the trust between all of you would be diminished and they would have an easier time taking everyone out.
“This is a perfidious plan and we can count ourselves lucky that we were able to find out in time. Otherwise, there’s no way knowing if the consequences the next time wouldn’t have been even harsher than yesterday. We could have lost many more disciples.”
At that, Elder Baili also stepped forward. “I hope that this serves as a reminder to everyone that we shouldn’t easily distrust each other. Right here, right now, our only enemy are the demonic practitioners. There’s no need to distrust your martial brothers and sisters. I hope that everybody will keep this in mind.
“Naturally, if you do have some suspicions, then that should be brought up. This is also something that is a sign of our trust in each other: We are able to mention something that we feel is strange not as an accusation but to listen to the explanation our martial brothers and sisters can give. That is an inquiry. An Inquiry for the truth. And the truth is what will keep us safe in the future.”
Mei Chao Bing narrowed his eyes at these words. Naturally, he didn’t think that Elder Baili doubted his sincerity. After Yun Bei Fen, Elder Baili was probably the next person who trusted him the most. But for him to say this, there had to be more behind it.
Most likely, the Elders had believed him. They just couldn’t do anything about Yang Wu Huang for now so they were just cautioning the other disciples to pay more attention while still not needlessly worrying them.
It was actually a good plan. He was just afraid that it might not be enough. What if Yang Wu Huang went completely crazy? What if he didn’t care about the others at all? What if he was willing to risk the lives of all these disciples just to get back at him?
Yang Wu Huang was that kind of person. Of that, he was sure. And while he could take care of Yun Bei Fen and maybe a few others, he would never be able to save all of them. He could only hope that the Elders had accounted for that.
Baili Chao glanced over the gathered disciples, catching Mei Chao Bing’s look and also seeing the slightly unnatural expression of Yang Wu Huang. Now that he knew what he was looking for, it was actually quite easy to spot. It was just that he never would have been able to imagine something like this before so he had never paid much attention.
He sighed to himself and then gave the disciples a wry smile before stepping back and letting Elder Xing continue.
“There is nothing we can do about the tragedy that befell us yesterday. The past is the past. Those that have left us can ever be brought back. But going forward, we can try to make sure that there will be fewer sacrifices.
“Elder Baili and I have considered all our options and we have decided to change the way we go about this mission. Obviously, the demonic practitioners already know about our actions. Thus we have to try and make it less likely to be surprised and overpowered by them.
“For that, we have decided to change the patrol groups. From here on out, each group will have more disciples and we will distribute the members according to some qualities in you all that we think might benefit the groups. You will still need to be careful but with more people around, we do hope that you will be less vulnerable.
“Now, I will call the group leaders we have chosen one by one to step forward. After that, we will assign you the members of your team.” Elder Xing nodded at the disciples and then took out a list, starting to read it out from the very top.
The disciples had already calmed down after these announcements but when the third name was called, quite a few of them couldn’t help but once again erupt in discussions.
Mei Chao Bing chuckled, patted Yun Bei Fen’s back, and then went forward. It would always be like this. When they heard some inspiring speech about trust and brotherhood, they would all murmur how right the Elders were but as soon as something happened that challenged this fragile trust, they would revert back to their original selves.
Maybe that just was human nature.